Wednesday, January 28, 2004

#89) Everclear - Sparkle & Fade (released in 1995, I'd listen to various people's copies for years before my sister finally gave me her CD of it last summer)

Art Alexakis really scares me. Just when you want to dismiss him as simply another self-serving rock asshole harshly recounting the ways women have failed him, he turns to camera to himself with a blunt acuity that transcends the cliches of bitter puds like Tom Petty. There’s no self-pity to be found within the frustration voiced throughout Sparkle & Fade, just a frank, desperate hope that voicing these memories will help him break free. What scares me about him (aside from his unashamed commercial brass-ring hunger in interviews and freaky stare’n’smirk) is that despite his observational skills and honesty, he - at least on this album - still hasn’t figured out how to beat the contradictory dilemma of wanting to be free…with someone else.

Aided by unfussy guitar-bass-drums arrangements that imply the band could actually pull this pop-thrash off live, Sparkle & Fade seems like it could be a concept album about a relationship except the songs aren’t in chronological order. The break-up song (“Santa Monica”) precedes the Bonnie and Clyde tracks (“Summerland,” “Heartspark Dollarsign”), both of which come after the horrifyingly cynical relationship sum-ups “Electra Made Me Blind” and “Heroin Girl.” Thanks to this kaleidoscopic quality, I can see why they closed the album with the reflective “My Sexual Life,” a song which makes blunt how much regret & history goes into these songs. Still, I hope at least one concert from this era ended with “Heartspark Dollarsign.” I still like to think there's "a power bigger than the pain."

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